The Minnesota Vikings have plenty of questions to answer this offseason but at the very top of the list is how they will improve the offensive line heading into 2019. Several of the top draft experts think that process will include picking a lineman in the first round.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah released his first mock draft last week. He has the Vikings taking Alabama lineman Jonah Williams with the 18th overall pick.
Williams appears to be a player who will be debated throughout the process. ESPN’s Mel Kiper has him going fifth overall. Size may play a role in whether teams see him as a tackle or guard.
Analysts at TheDraftNetwork.com do not believe he needs to be moved inside. TDN wrote:
“Jonah Williams is a technically refined offensive tackle who projects most favorably into a physical offensive front. Williams’ pass protection skills would be best utilized in quicker passing schemes to protect his lack of length from being exposed on deeper pass sets, but that’s no reason to dismiss his skills as an offensive tackle and move inside to guard. Should be a rookie starter at the NFL level and provide quality play on the outside by the end of his first year.”
Since Williams was off the board early in Kiper’s mock, he went with Ole Miss tackle Greg Little.
Another option could be on the defensive line, where the Vikings may lose Sheldon Richardson to free agency. ESPN’s Todd McShay (whose mock draft came before the final draft order was set), has the Vikings selecting defensive tackle Derrick Brown from Auburn.
Brown had 4.5 sacks for the Tigers this year.
Pro Football Focus’s Mike Renner also sees the Vikings going for a lineman, but in his scenario the Vikings do fill their immediate need with guard Tyler Baidasz.
After the NFL Combine we will have a much clearer picture of where the linemen will fall in the draft. For now the analysts aren’t picking offensive weapons for the Vikings, but that could change depending on whether they make moves to fix the line in free agency.